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Thread: Pieces for a (sort of) beginner; also shoes

  1. #1
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    Pieces for a (sort of) beginner; also shoes

    Hey everyone, I'm new here so please excuse any rule-breaking that might occur

    I have very recently (about a week ago) started playing the organ and am now looking for pieces to play. Now, I have been playing the piano for about 19 years so the manuals will not be a problem. (We don't have a grade system in Germany, I looked at past lists of pieces however and have played grade 8 pieces with no difficulty)

    I have started learning the Toccata in D Minor (obvious choice), which has very little pedal work and is no problem. I haven't yet progressed to the Fugue (haven't had the time), so can't comment on how well it would work for me.

    It would be great if anyone had a couple of suggestions for me, I've been looking around YouTube for inspiration, but apart from Widor's toccata (which is most likely out of reach at the moment) I haven't really found anything.


    I'm also thinking about the shoes. I used to dance a few years back and still have the dancing shoes. They work reasonably well, although I feel like the heels (about 4 cm at the highest point in the back) are a bit too high for my liking. (They're not high heels, just simple lace-up dancing shoes.) I'm thinking about having them changed by a shoemaker but wouldn't mind buying a different pair.

    If anyone has progressed this far, thanks for reading this! I can't believe I didn't know of this community before!

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    with 19 years of piano- this will help with reading and keyboard use.. However organ is a different touch phrasing then piano. i.e. breaks between notes, phrases which has to be inserted as the organ is a sustain instrument in the fact that sound continues until you release the note as well as amount of reverb present ( delay ) in sounding which can be zero ( dry ) to 7 seconds (wet ) and maybe more in some buildings.

    I would suggest 2 things for you to get a good basic organ understanding. 1. A good teacher ...2. Organ methods book i.e. Gleason or Strainer are two good ones.... which give you basics and exercises for performance of organ music. There are few methods teachers on youtube and other music sites you can view for hints to playing.

    If your dancing shoes have leather souls ( so you can slide) .. look up organ shoes and it will give you specs and your shoemaker may be able to to adjust them..maybe save some money.


    The characteristics of a typical organ shoe are as follows, with the most important ones listed first:
    1. HEEL--3/4" to 1 1/4" in height, moderately wide (should not easily fit in the space between the natural keys). The heel surface should allow the heel to slide easily forward and back on the naturals without leaving marks. Leather is usually best.
    2. SOLE--thin leather (softer leather is best), trimmed so as not to protrude beyond the sides of the foot. The sole should slide easily up and down the keys, and from sharp to natural.
    3. INSTEP--the heel and sole should be offset so as to allow you to "straddle" from one natural to another. Shoes that contain a "bridge" between heel and sole are not ideal.
    4. UPPERS--flexible, lightweight, leather or synthetic. The uppers should slide against each other without sticking. (Patent leather is usually not ideal). Baby powder can often help "sticky" shoes to slide more easily against one another.
    5. FIT--laces or a strap should hold the shoe snugly to the foot.
      I wish the Best of Luck and I know is hard work but well worth the time spend ( and lts of it too) I remember my study days and still learning.


    The Eight little Preludes and fugues..J.S.Bach - Schirmer's Library Of Music Classics..Vol 1456 ..is always a good place to begin for organ study. A lot depends on where your interest of composer's, periods music etc.. There are many collections available for learning.
    Last edited by wljmrbill; Feb-03-2016 at 09:22.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

    Bill

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    Wow, thanks for the very quick and detailed reply!

    First, I have a very good teacher, he is very structured and an excellent concert organist as well as church organist so I have no worries there. For the books I'll have a look around, thanks! My teacher has given me a few pages of pedal exercises (I don't have too much stuff, as I've only had one lesson so far) and some very easy chorals for both feet and hands as well as a general piece just for the manuals (so I can actually play something without being too frustrated), but I'll definitely look for a methods book as well.

    For the dance shoes: They are these or something close to them and I guess they fit your description except for the heel, which is higher than what seems to be the norm for organists and which should be lower in my personal opinion. I'll ask my shoemaker if he can lower it

    Composers, where to begin... I have played a lot of Bach when I was a child and still love it, the baroque style is something that seems to fit very well with my musical preferences. Also Grieg, though I don't know if he ever composed for organ. Poulenc (haven't played too much by this guy but the few things I did play were great fun), Beethoven (again, no idea if he did anything for the organ).

    I like a lot of different kinds of music so can't really commit to an era or composer (although I do think Bach might be my favourite); if I like it, I'll try to play it


    Thanks again, I'll definitely check out the preludes and fugues! Cheers!

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    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster FinnViking's Avatar
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    If you are looking for "standard repertoire", I can't help you because I have dropped that stuff a decade ago . But you can find a lot of less heard listener-friendly pieces on my youtube channel. Maybe you'll get inspiration for practising.
    https://www.youtube.com/user/mhakanpaa/videos
    Last edited by FinnViking; Feb-03-2016 at 18:17.
    Marko Hakanpää, organist of St. Michael's Church, Turku, Finland.
    www.hakanpaa.net

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    Commander, Assistant Conductor Albert's Avatar
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    You may also find a copy of Ernst Kaller's Orgelschule. This is a two volume set that I have owned since I bought it in Soest ins 1965. I was stationed in Germany, and was "volunteered" to play the chapel organ by the director of music, Charles Villeneuve, who was the director of the Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps Band, also stationed in Germany at the time. I still use the exercises when I feel my pedaling is not where it should be. The Orgelschule is aimed squarely at pianists who want to learn the organ. Most of the pieces in the first of the two books have editorial stop suggestions.
    Last edited by Albert; Feb-03-2016 at 19:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock Holmes View Post
    Hey everyone, I'm new here so please excuse any rule-breaking that might occur

    I have very recently (about a week ago) started playing the organ and am now looking for pieces to play. Now, I have been playing the piano for about 19 years so the manuals will not be a problem. (We don't have a grade system in Germany, I looked at past lists of pieces however and have played grade 8 pieces with no difficulty)

    I have started learning the Toccata in D Minor (obvious choice), which has very little pedal work and is no problem. I haven't yet progressed to the Fugue (haven't had the time), so can't comment on how well it would work for me.
    Hm, how well do you handle 4-voice polyphony? I completed a full 9-year period on organ class and I can tell you that investing in properly learning all the combinations between left hand, right hand and feet, will pay in the long term very well. Trying to delve directly into deep waters, no matter how well you manage the manuals, will not help you to built a solid technique. You will feel it when the complexity will increase. It will be painful to master the movements required in full and complex polyphony.

    The difficulty is that the movements of the fingers of the left hand and those of the feet are controlled by the same brain area. You need to disconnect those two, and become fluent in each combination. There are methods to do this. My professor gave me the following, in that order:

    H. Schouten: Duo's en trio's voor orgel
    G. A. Sorge: 11 Orgeltrios
    M. Dupré: 79 Chorales for the organ

    For solo pedal exercises I had some excerpts from F. Peeters books (Ars Organi), but I think those are very difficult to find today. It is of crucial importance to learn to play the pedals blindly. Your feet have to learn to find the right positions alone, so that you can concentrate on the score.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherlock Holmes View Post
    I'm also thinking about the shoes. I used to dance a few years back and still have the dancing shoes. They work reasonably well, although I feel like the heels (about 4 cm at the highest point in the back) are a bit too high for my liking. (They're not high heels, just simple lace-up dancing shoes.) I'm thinking about having them changed by a shoemaker but wouldn't mind buying a different pair.
    Regarding shoes, I bought ten years ago a pair of Organ Master Shoes. They are still in very good condition. They are specially designed to play the organ pedals, with the correct heel height and thin underside covered by a special leather surface, so that you can feel the keys. Their design makes them uncomfortable to walk around but perfect for pedal playing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pb05 View Post
    Regarding shoes, I bought ten years ago a pair of Organ Master Shoes.
    These are the shoes I am wearing in all my videos.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    For many years I have used OrganMaster Shoes. A pair usually lasts (for me) about 10 years so splitting the cost over that period of time makes them a reasonable purchase.

    The heels are 1-1/4" and the steel shank aids in operating the swell shoes with great precision.

    As for music there is a plethora of public domain scores for organ (collections, too) on IMSLP. They have a membership plan now, but if one doesn't mind waiting the 14 seconds, the downloads are completely free and already in PDF format.

    I have, over the years, downloaded thousands of pieces and collections from IMSLP and presently have a digital library of 3.2 GB and growing. I keep those file organized by composer last name for easy reference.

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    Bach's Harmonized Chorales, all 371 of them. very easy to find, not expensive. I have gone through them all with just hands (except for some reaches which are impossible) and am now just starting to do them again with pedal. I took lessons for ten years and got virtually nowhere (my fault but also my teacher was too sweet) and have made more progress in the last few months with the Chorales than in all that time.

    If you like Bach I suggest Dupre's editions. They are fully annotated, (too much in some professional organists' opinions). But he tells you everything you need to know.

    Mick

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Berg View Post
    . . . If you like Bach I suggest Dupre's editions. They are fully annotated, (too much in some professional organists' opinions). But he tells you everything you need to know.

    Mick
    Fully agree with this. All of my original Bach, Mendelssohn and Schumann collections are Dupre editions purchased in the early 60's for a fraction of what they cost today. They remain a wonderful resource in my printed collection some 50+ years later.

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Berg View Post

    If you like Bach I suggest Dupre's editions. They are fully annotated, (too much in some professional organists' opinions). But he tells you everything you need to know.

    Mick
    Just a word of caution. Dupré designed his annotations having in mind the legato playing because, at his time, this was the perception about organ playing. If you try to follow exactly Dupré's annotations, you will most likely end up playing legato, making in the meantime strange pirouettes with finger substitutions.

    Today we know that the baroque pieces should be played with the notes detached. This is very rue with Bach's compositions, most of which are played (and sound) more naturally if you detach the notes. This may even require successive multiple use of the same finger, if that feels natural and easy, something totally foreign to Dupré's approach.

    In a nutshell, yes, Dupré's annotations are good to have in order to speed up learning, but should not be faithfully followed in Bach's music.
    Last edited by pb05; Mar-17-2016 at 16:05.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pb05 View Post
    Just a word of caution. Dupré designed his annotations having in mind the legato playing because, at his time, this was the perception about organ playing. If you try to follow exactly Dupré's annotations, you will most likely end up playing legato, making in the meantime strange pirouettes with finger substitutions.

    Today we know that the baroque pieces should be played with the notes detached. This is very rue with Bach's compositions, most of which are played (and sound) more naturally if you detach the notes. This may even require successive multiple use of the same finger, if that feels natural and easy, something totally foreign to Dupré's approach.

    In a nutshell, yes, Dupré's annotations are good to have in order to speed up learning, but should not be faithfully followed in Bach's music.
    I'm sure you are right. I am an absolute amateur and am pleased if I get through a short piece like a hymn without hitting a wrong note. So you are talking about a higher level than where I am at. But even though it may not be correct, I think I prefer the sound of the legato style.
    I urge other readers to take your comments seriously.
    Cheers,
    Mick

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